2020 National Assistant Principal of the Year Finalists

The search for the National Assistant Principal of the Year begins every fall as each state principal’s association selects its State Assistant Principals of the Year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selects three finalists.


Audrey Fish

Audrey Fish

Oquirrh Hills Middle School
Riverton, UT

Grades: 7–9
Students: 1,303
Region: Suburban

Nurturing is different from just looking after someone or something—it is caring for and encouraging someone’s growth or development. In schools, it is imperative that we nurture one another along our educational paths. During my decadelong career as a middle level assistant principal, I have nurtured others and been nurtured. One of my favorite success stories occurred during the past two years when I implemented an instructional coaching model at our school. Hundreds of observations made by peers to improve behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement has had a positive impact not only on student learning, but on our school culture as well. Guiding each teacher into becoming a reflective practitioner has a powerful impact on our school. I am out to improve student learning, one teacher at a time.


Jon Fitzgerald

Jon Fitzgerald

Pattonville High School
Maryland Heights, MO

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,781
Region: Suburban

I am most proud of my role leading learning in the career pathways that we have developed at Pattonville High School. Something that jumps out at me in retrospect were the relative risks we took to ensure that we built solid programs in the areas of computer science, engineering, biomedical science, and nursing. For example, we repurposed our best math teacher to become our computer science teacher to ensure the program had a top-notch instructor. We designed and created a simulation lab for our nursing program that rivaled any college simulation lab, because it was important to provide students with access to high-level materials. These programs are now all extremely successful, and I believe it’s because we invested heavily in them in terms of resources, energy, human capital, and a passion for education.


Debra Paradowski

Debra Paradowski

Arrowhead Union High School
Hartland, WI

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,139
Region: Rural

Three years ago, I started a student-centered group called Students Leaving a Mark (SLAM) to improve our school culture. By giving students a voice in our school’s routines, they were empowered, engaged, and became confident learners. Opportunities were created for students to demonstrate leadership skills and guide our school in the right direction. Students made decisions about topics they wanted to address and outlined their action steps. In a short time, the SLAM students had a direct impact on our school’s culture by adding murals in the hallways and positive messages on the stairwells. They painted the walls in study hall, renovated the staff lunchroom, and created meaningful ways to recognize student and staff excellence. Overall, we have observed an increase in positive behavior, attendance, academic accomplishments, and pride in our school.